The Classic Greyhound cocktail is a titillating, tart shaken drink perfect for brunch, in the sun on the beach, or at home doing anything at all, it is a citrusy refresher that works for all seasons.
This mouth-puckering pick-me-up is a straightforward mix of just gin (or vodka) and grapefruit juice served on the rocks, like a sour Screwdriver. Simple and versatile–it is well-worth learning the ins-and-outs of.
This recipe has the addition of bitters and simple syrup, but you can strip that all away and have a 2-ingreident cocktail with just grapefruit juice and your spirit of choice.
What's in a Greyhound Cocktail?
The Classic Greyhound requires no more than gin or vodka, and fresh-as-you-can-get-it grapefruit juice. Like the Screwdriver – its cousin among the brunch cocktail crowd – it is drastically improved with freshly squeezed juice but will work beautifully with bottled grapefruit juice as well.
We don’t consider this kind of drink a highball for no good reason; for starters, it has a higher proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer than it does a spirit. But it’s also ideal in a highball glass. Look for one of those, or a Collins glass (they’re similar glassware, with the highball being a bit skinnier). The wider stemless wine glasses or double old-fashioned glasses can also work, in a delightful pinch.
Garnishing Your Greyhound
A twist of lime or lemon or a sprig of rosemary tucked alongside the ice is all you’ll need for a garnish. Using any of these garnishes will add a great deal of elegance and élan.
History of a Greyhound Cocktail
The Greyhound cocktail can be traced back to the legendary Savoy Cocktail Book published in 1930. Back then, it was just considered a variation of a “grapefruit cocktail”, which had been made with grapefruit jelly. Harry Craddock, the author of Savoy Cocktail Book, updated the original cocktail and added in fresh grapefruit juice instead— which is how it was served in restaurants of Greyhound bus lines.
That’s the common origin story, but just a few years earlier, in the classic Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, you’ll find mention of a cocktail with gin, grapefruit juice, and simple syrup, that is pretty spot-on to what the Greyhound Cocktail is today. Not known for their innovation in cocktails, the US Bureau of Chemistry and Soils was clearly just replicating a cocktail they saw many people were akin to.
It wasn’t until the late 1940s that vodka began filling in for the gin, when vodka’s sudden appearance in the United States led to a frenzy for reinventing classic cocktails with the novel, neutral spirit.
Best Brands of Gin or Vodka for a Greyhound
Gin is the spirit for Greyhound drinkers who want that extra bit of character. Beefeater London Dry is one of the best choices for this cocktail—it’s high proof, delicate enough in taste and very affordable.
Alternately, you can try Plymouth which is a little citrusy and more noticeably junipered. Old Tom Gin, is another option, a slightly sweeter precursor to modern gins that is heavy on the botanicals.
Vodka catches a lot of flak from most bartenders as the spirit of choice for those who don’t like the taste of alcohol. But its neutrality allows your cocktails to have versatility and is a great foundation for cocktails if you wish to improvise. Because you’re mixing the vodka with so much grapefruit juice and even a little water (courtesy of the ice), there’s no call to use a more expensive sipping vodka, or even Ketel One. Try using Absolut – a great pairing with citrus – or Tito’s.
Here are a few Greyhound Cocktail variations you can try:
- A Sea Breeze features sweetened cranberry juice.
- Salty Dog is an almost equally popular variation of the Greyhound cocktail with salt on the rim of the glass.
- Italian Greyhound incorporates Campari, a grapefruit flavored liqueur.
- Dalmatian pairs a black pepper syrup with the fresh grapefruit and vodka.
This recipe includes a splash of simple syrup to round out the flavor and balance the tartness of the grapefruit. Like the proportions of gin or grapefruit juice, you should feel free to adjust this, to taste. Find your own “sweet spot” between the booziness, tartness of the grapefruit, and sweetness.
- 2 ounces gin or vodka
- 3 ounces grapefruit juice
- 1/4 ounce simple syrup
- Dash of grapefruit bitters, optional
- 1 rosemary sprig, for garnish
Pour cocktail ingredients into a shaker:
Pour the gin, grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and grapefruit bitters into an ice-filled cocktail shaker glass. Shake until the outside of the shaker is cold to the touch.
Strain drink, garnish, and serve:
Strain the drink into a Collins or highball glass with 4 medium-sized ice cubes. Tuck the sprig of rosemary in the glass alongside the ice. Serve.